A notebook sits on Lori Baker’s coffee table, filled with scribbled words she hoped she would never write. It’s a rough draft of her own daughter’s obituary.
“Samantha Rose Kennedy, 24,” she read, “Passed away March 14th, 2014 as a result of a pedestrian-vehicle accident.”
Three days earlier, a Pierce County chaplain came to Baker’s door to inform her family Samantha Kennedy had been hit by a car along State Route 7 in Spanaway, and died.
“I believed what they told me,” said Baker, “That my daughter was dead.”
The determination was made by the Pierce County Medical Examiner, using information provided initially by Tacoma General Hospital and later, with first-hand viewing of the body.
Key to the identification, a tattoo and a picture provided, along with a report given to the hospital of a missing woman, Samantha Kennedy.
But according to Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Thomas Clark, something was lost in translation.
“We work in a gray area,” Dr. Clark said, “We did what we normally do. We thought it would be sufficient, but in retrospect, it wasn’t.”
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